Sunday, August 9, 2020

Astronomers Find Water on Habitable Zone Planet

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K2-18b isn’t a rejected Star Wars droid. It’s the name astronomers have given a planet orbiting a faraway star. Oh, and this one probably has liquid water.

Image: I’m not saying it was aliens… but it was aliens.

Water isn’t as rare in the universe as you’d think. There is water on other planets in our solar system. Outside of earth, the moon, Mars, Uranus Neptune, Europa, Enceladus, and other celestial bodies have water. The issue, though, is that they (mostly) have water locked in the form of ice.

The difference, is that K2-18b is an earth-like planet and in the Habitable Zone.

Image: The Habitable Zone is the region in space where liquid water is likely.

The Habitable Zone varies based on the output of a sun and the composition of the planet, but K2-18b falls right in the Goldilocks zone. Nasa’s Kepler telescope spotted the planet circling a red dwarf star – light variations and anomalies as well as spectrum composition – are used to detect these worlds so far away. But finding a few with liquid water might be a good start for us to meet some aliens.

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K2-18b is closer to its start than earth is to the sun, orbiting about once a month, but it stays a reasonable 50 F. It’s also much bigger than earth, being about halfway between our size and Neptune’s. Big planets are, of course, far easier to detect. The issue to us making it there is that it’s 110 light years away and, oh yeah, it would probably be blanketed in cancer causing UV.

With the detection of liquid water outside our solar system on a planet that might – or may have in the past – sustained life, that’s pretty darn cool. As astronomy advances, we are closer and closer to answering the question: Are we alone in the universe? Also, just how sexy are the green Orion women?

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